October 10, 2012 - 17:31 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sought to reassure NATO allies on Wednesday, Oct 10, effective action was being taken to stop "insider" attacks on their soldiers that have undermined trust between coalition and Afghan forces, Reuters reported.
Panetta also told a meeting of alliance defense ministers the 11-year-old Afghan war had "reached a critical moment" after the pullout of 33,000 U.S. "surge" troops brought in two years ago to help counter a strengthening Taliban insurgency.
He said the coalition's response to attacks by Taliban insurgents disguised as Afghan policemen or soldiers and its efforts to improve its partnership with Afghan security forces would be critical to the success of the war with the Taliban.
Panetta and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the gathering in Brussels there was no move to speed up the planned withdrawal of international forces.
"The handover to Afghan security responsibility is unfolding as planned. And as transition takes hold, you will see some of our forces redeploying or drawing down as part of the strategy we have all agreed. This is not a rush for the exit, but the logical result of transition," Rasmussen said.
At least 52 members of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force have been killed this year by Afghans wearing police or army uniforms, eroding confidence between the sides.
"Whatever motivates these attacks, the enemy intends to use them to undermine mutual trust and cohesion, driving a wedge between us and our Afghan partners," Panetta said. "We can only deny the enemy its objective by countering these attacks with all of our strength."